The trailer for the anticipated “Queen of Katwe” was recently released to the pleasure of many people across social media platforms. Directed by Mira Nair, the dynamic Indian filmmaker, “Queen of Katwe” is produced by Disney and ESPN films. It stars Lupita Nyong’o, David Oyelowo, and Madina Nalwanga as the titular Queen of Katwe.


Although the movie will not be released to general audiences until September, there is a lot of excitement around it, particularly from African netizens. People on Twitter already predict the film will do well at the Oscars, while others approve of the Ugandan accents portrayed by Nyong’o and Oyelowo.


The Queen of Katwe is Phiona Mutesi, the chess prodigy whose story has charmed those who are familiar with it. Growing up in Katwe, a slum in Uganda’s capital Kampala, Mutesi lived a hard life. Brought up by her widowed mother, there was no guarantee of constant meals and sometimes the family was rendered homeless. Mutesi was also illiterate as her mother could not afford to send her to school. When she was 9 years old, Mutesi discovered chess through a Christian charity that gave free food to those that attended.



Trained by coach Robert Katende, himself a missionary, Mutesi carved a niche for herself in a game associated in Uganda with privileged children and white people. She was crowned the National Women’s Junior Champion of Uganda in 2007 when she was just 11 years old. Mutesi has traveled extensively for chess tournaments, having competed in the 2010 chess Olympiad in Siberia, Russia and again in Istanbul, Turkey, where she was awarded the title of Women Candidate Master by the World Chess Federation.


This is not the first time Mutesi’s life has been captured for a wide audience. She is the subject of a book by sports writer Tim Crothers, “The Queen of Katwe: A Story of Life, Chess, and One Extraordinary Girl’s Dream of Becoming a Grandmaster.” Mutesi’s inspiring story is one of perseverance; she says it took her a year to get good at chess, but she is now the first titled Ugandan woman. From losing games herself, Mutesi went on to play against boys, older teenagers from privileged backgrounds and university students, beating them all.


Mutesi’s chess skills have paved the way for a school scholarship. She now wants to become a chess grandmaster and doctor. Already a big deal in her home country Uganda and across Africa, “Queen of Katwe” will let the world know Phiona Mutesi.


Could Hollywood finally be getting Africa right? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below or telling me on Twitter @rafeeeeta